Sharing seeds of rare plants

William Hoffmann wahoffma@ncsu.edu
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 06:49:15 PST
Tony,
    As an academic ecologist, I couldn't resist responding to this in
good fun. So, if a gardener values the preservation of heirloom
varieties, is that person a horti-nazi?

Surely you can't be in favor of willy-nilly mixing of populations
without reason. When I buy a plant from you, I presume it is of the
advertised species, subspecies, locality or variety (now I am not so
sure!). In horticulture we may value a specific genotype because of
its performance. Similarly, in natural populations, the genotype
matters, and there is often evidence of local adaptation (such as
summer-dormant and winter-dormant populations of the same species). We
can't know how this might be undermined by introgression with other
genotypes, so there is reason for at least some caution. On the other
hand, I agree that there are many cases where introduction of new
genetic diversity is needed to impart disease resistance, to overcome
inbreeding issues, etc. Some purists oppose even this, which I think
is an irresponsible attitude. Even more so is the resistance to
establishment of new populations of rare species, which some purists
also oppose.

In horticulture we may value specific races or cultivars for the same
reason that art collectors value an original painting over an
indistinguishable forgery. I don't know what these values tell us
about human nature, but it seems to be at the root of some of the more
extreme opinions in conservation.

Regard,

Bill

>I'll add one more comment to spur thought on the "muddying" of genetic populations.  The last person to widely promote this >idea, although with Homo sapiens, was a prominent WWII German.  His idea of genetic superiority of "natives", and the idea >of maintaining a pure race has been widely criticized, although pockets of these ethnic purists still exist.  Yet, in 2014, this >same principle is horticulturally championed by academic ecological purists, who would no doubt  be horrified at the thought of >anyone objecting to say, inter-racial marriages in humans.  People bristle at the term eco-nazi, but isn't that what we're >seeing?

On Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 5:12 PM, Tony Avent <Tony@plantdelights.com> wrote:
> I'll add one more comment to spur thought on the "muddying" of genetic populations.  The last person to widely promote this idea, although with Homo sapiens, was a prominent WWII German.  His idea of genetic superiority of "natives", and the idea of maintaining a pure race has been widely criticized, although pockets of these ethnic purists still exist.  Yet, in 2014, this same principle is horticulturally championed by academic ecological purists, who would no doubt  be horrified at the thought of anyone objecting to say, inter-racial marriages in humans.  People bristle at the term eco-nazi, but isn't that what we're seeing?
>
> From: pbs [mailto:pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Ron Mudd
> Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 4:31 PM
> To: pbs@lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: [pbs] Sharing seeds of rare plants
>
> So disappointing that true enthusiasts are legislated against growing ( or
> sharing for free! ) local and / or possibly endangered species because of a
> perceived dilution of genetic viability and / or genetic contamination,
> when the globally influential multinational ' home and garden improvement
> stores' are so free to sell ( at massive mark ups!! ) potentially invasive,
> and most often ' weedy' non native species. Unfortunately the major
> botanical institutions do not help the situation as, instead of
> coordinating efforts to rationally resolve this situation, they pretend to
> go along with the legislation, whilst surreptitiously leaking rare plant
> material to 'amateur' acquaintances. Then when budgets are slashed, they
> appeal, to those denied, for financial assistance. Reap and sow !
> I am afraid that I really do not understand the viewpoint of the
> 'environmentalist' that would rather see a population disappear under a
> housing development / new roadway / power initiative, than to see that
> population reinforced by genetic material that has come from another
> population 10 miles down the road !!
> Its true that I feel better for venting my feelings, but unfortunately
> simply posting here will change nothing. Unless people take real control of
> their immediate environment nothing will change :(
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-- 
William A. Hoffmann
Associate Professor
Department of Plant Biology
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC, 27695-7612
Phone: (919) 513-7668
http://www4.ncsu.edu/~wahoffma/labhome/…





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